I would like to share the experience I had during the students exchange. It was really a good and challenging experience because first we had the opportunity to interact with different people from a another country since for us we are always seeing each other. For example we learnt a lot from the Swiss students from the presentation and other conversations we had with them plus the games we played together like the basketball and the cards. It was actually my first time joining the exchange and I really wish to join the next one because no one knows how the exchange is important and interesting unless you are given the opportunity to join and experience it. Because of the experience we came from being strangers fearing each other to becoming friends and almost becoming family.
As a tourism student, the question how responsible and meaningful tourism could look like has long followed me and that is why I decided to join the Students meet Students Exchange Travel to explore answers to this question. What I found and experienced in Rwanda not only proved to be an inspiring example of how tourism can work based on development cooperation and long-term trusting relationships. It has also given me the opportunity to meet Rwandan students my age who are eager to create their future, to exchange ideas and discuss meaning in life. Moreover, the discussion about Rwandan and African history and societal context with Erics vast knowledge was enriching. The reflections in the group helped me to understand the shared experiences. This travel is challenging, inspiring and meaningful and I recommend it to anyone who would like to better understand the complexity of Rwanda – or the world.
It was very interesting to participate in the student exchange 2022. The program was most valuable, very thoughtfull and well designed. Meeting with our friends after this COVID-19 pandemic was made possible and broad discussions were opened and stimulated. It was really motivating to discuss different topics in Tourism sector, both countries development and economy. Through different precious trips we got to understand a broader world view. In my opinion, this trips makes a great contribution to the promotion of sustainable tourism and country’s economy especially Rwanda. I would like to recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more and develop individually. Big thanks to COERESO leaders to give us such paramount experience.
The exchange of Swiss and Rwandan students was very interesting and the ideas shared through presentations, group conversations and individual conversations was very constructive. We learned different things from Swiss people like for example I shared with you the idea of my future project and everyone contributed by telling me what I add in my project to be profitable and sustainable.
You can swim in Africa and you can look at animals in Africa, but you can’t just experience development projects up close in Africa, interact with an incredible number of people on a personal level and look behind facades. This fact is what made me decide to participate in the trip with Coereso, and it’s a fact I would like to encourage anyone who is considering joining the trip to consider. An opportunity like this doesn’t come along every day, so take advantage of it. Use it if you are a person who likes people. Use it if you want to interact, learn and recognize a lot. I was able to learn impressive things from the people in Rwanda and the people in my travel group. What I experienced was a huge privilege for me.
Honestly it was a tremendous opportunity that left me with a wish to even join the next exchanges. It is not that usual to get the chance to meet lovely, supportive people to get to know each other and Learn from one another. Every single act was a lesson to me: the trips, the presentation, chats with each and everyone, meals together and even games. It was one of the best things that happened in my life ’cause even my mind was opened in that exchange as I got to learn from every one new ideas, perspectives and much more which are contributing to my living as now.
The exchange was perfect and I wish it won’t stop.
The experience I had on this journey was profound on many levels. It reminded me of what is important, not only when traveling, but in life as well: relationships. It is the people you meet along the way, and the interactions with them that make it meaningful. Accordingly, this trip to Rwanda is not like any other, as it focusses on interactions and relationships with people from different backgrounds. It was eye-opening and enriching to have the chance to see what the cooperation with COERESO means to the individuals that have been working with Eric for years. Working with the students in Rwanda, exchanging knowledge, ideas, talking about worldviews, hopes and dreams reconfirmed an important aspect to me: no matter where you go, if you are interested in the other person, you can build a meaningful connection with them.
This journey is an opportunity to reflect on tourism, development cooperations and their approach, relationships, and yourself. It is a learning experience that navigates you through the complexity of Rwanda’s history and society. Having Eric guide us through this experience, helping us understand and reflect on what we encountered was a significant factor of this unforgettable trip.
The exchange with Swiss students was very good for me because was my first time to participate in students exchange from another country. I really got much experience and learnt more from the presentation, tours , conversation and games we had. And also in this exchange, I got new friends who I share ideas to different topics in few words was very good and interesting, I wish to join next challenge. Furthermore, I appreciate that we go on helping each other to discuss our projects critically.
Roller coaster ride of emotions
On the one hand, the country fascinated me with its diversity and beautiful nature. On the other hand the time in Rwanda was marked by very intense encounters that I will never forget. The student exchange in the first week was filled with exciting discussions. Among other things, we talked about how tourism can be used to fight poverty in Rwanda as well as in Switzerland. But we also took the time to exchange thoughts about the students’ future projects, which was very interesting and much appreciated. I was amazed by the drive of the young people, who became friends after a short time. As our journey continued, we were given the unique opportunity to visit the local communities, which welcomed us very warmly. All of these encounters triggered a roller coaster ride of emotions in me. In retrospect, however, that is what I loved most about our journey and I am very grateful for these meaningful and enriching moments.
David Muvunyi Ngabonziza
Talking of the experience gained from exchange, it was educative, entertaining and helpful through out the life and experience we shared learning from one another. Here I mean the presentation and trips that provided different information, view, opinion and idea and it really was a great one. We had different presentations about society, poverty and tourism of both countries which was very important to us as Rwandan students. The exchange was really helpful and I wish I can be a part of next one and as for my fellow students of Rwanda, I would like to ask for chance for them to have the same experience as we had. The visit we had was interactive some with us as guide which sharply reminded and added to our professionalism. We visited memorable places like the canopy in Nyungwe national park or the Bee Keeping Cooperative.
During my last year as a student at the FHGR, I was able to get a first insight into the work of COERESO as the president of the student organization Cambiela. Together with dedicated fellow students, I organized various fundraising events at the university to support the communities and projects in Rwanda. It was an incredibly enriching opportunity to travel the country and see the impact of our work. I was especially touched by people’s personal stories as they shared with pride, joy, and gratitude how their lives have moved in a hopeful direction because of COERESO’s support. The exchange with the Rwandan students also allowed an insight into their lives and their remarkable commitment to a self-determined future. The historical, social and political insights and backgrounds about Rwanda were as exciting as they were challenging. They led to discussions in the group and showed the complexity of our world. An unbelievable journey, which demands all senses and levels of exchange, but will be remembered for a long time.
My expectations for the student exchange were mixed. On the one hand, I wanted to connect with people from other backgrounds and learn from their experiences and exchange them. Not only did I want to better myself or share my knowledge, but I also wanted to attempt to comprehend how the Holocaust could have happened and how one would still be able to inspire new hope. On the other hand, I aspired to learn more about the nation and its citizens. Both expectations were more than fulfilled. I was able to make many contacts and share experiences. I already got along very well with my assigned partner in advance and we were able to exchange many things. It is really special how people grow on you in such a short time that you can’t hold back the tears when you say goodbye. Everywhere we went, people welcomed us with open arms. Delicious food was cooked for us, the people sang and proudly performed traditional dances. The church, the experiences, the history, the joy, the sadness but also the beauty of the nation were shared with us. Since we were traveling with an almost local (Eric), we were able to get to know Rwanda with all its facets and not just experience it the way mass tourism does.
This student exchange is the ideal opportunity for everyone who wishes to develop individually and participate in a special exchange. The trip demonstrates how much you can accomplish as a team! far more than by yourself! For the experience and the interchange, I am grateful to Eric, Rwanda, all of the IPRC Kitabi students, and the communities.
Sandrine Uwase Habimana
It was really an incredible moment which left us with a lot of memories to the extent we wish to join the next exchange. It isn’t something that usually happens to meet beautiful people who you exchange constructive ideas, opinions, projects and they support you as if you have known each other for a life time. The exchange provided us with an opportunity to make friends and learn from each other, especially from the presentations, the trips, the conversations as we shared meals and the memorable games that we are now teaching our colleagues.
I would like to appreciate the Swiss students for opening up to us and I would like to extend my gratitude to the organizers (Sir Eric) for giving us such an opportunity to participate in the exchange, it really added a big rock to building our life.
Vreni Wipf – A new world view.
The trip to Rwanda changed and enriched my world view. Far from the well-trodden tourist paths, I was able to personally meet and exchange ideas with locals in different circumstances. Carefully introduced to the history of the country by the tour guide, I learned to understand the background and the reappraisal of the 1994 genocide. I joined the COERESO association because it supports smaller and only sustainable projects with targeted help, be it in agriculture or in small businesses. What else did I like? The small travel group, the competent guide, the very pleasant climate, the many active women in Rwanda!
Ursina Bührer – Doing good with tourism.
During these two weeks I could see that you can also do good with tourism. On my previous trips, it was always very difficult for me to get to know the people and their lives. Often it was superficial “visits”, it was the “consumption” of people and country. In my opinion, the point is not to seek confirmation of our clichés, but to be challenged by the other. There are probably very beautiful landscapes everywhere. But it seems exciting to me to see how people, who are all the same, master their concrete challenges. What solutions do they find for problems that arise everywhere in a very similar way? This process of discovery has been very well facilitated by COERESO. On the same level we could experience an exchange with the people in the communities, we could understand each other. I was also impressed to see that those who do not learn from history repeat the same mistakes. It also confirmed for me once again that it is necessary to work together to solve the problems. Personal freedom is important, but not as significant as reflection on the common future and personal assumption of responsibility for the common good. Without responsible individuals, social or political catastrophes can occur at any time.
Arthur Schweizer – A highlight.
As a 70+ year old and a traveler since my majority, I have already been able to travel to some corners of the world. But the trip to Rwanda was the icing on the cake.
The preparations were meticulous and the daily excursions, tours in the city and visits to the countryside went off without a hitch. COERESO makes it possible to get to know the country with its difficult history and especially the inhabitants. The visitor is introduced not TO, but IN the society that is foreign to us. This is only possible thanks to the previous careful contacts of the tour guide with the local population and the trust gained.
We were expertly introduced to the history of Rwanda, which sometimes left us speechless, in several sessions by the tour guide, but also by local contemporary witnesses. The individual travel days were never overloaded and were designed to be “stressless”, i.e. there was always enough rest time or for conversations in small circles.
Whoever wants to experience an African country not only from a safari jeep, but also wants to experience the friendliness, cordiality and warmth of the inhabitants of Rwanda with all their daily challenges “up close”, is very well served with COERESO.
Our small travel group under competent COERESO leadership was able to spend interesting, informative and unforgettable days in Rwanda. For me a highlight of my past Africa trips.
Chantal Mayr – Promotion of sustainable tourism
In the summer of 2018, I participated in the student exchange. The program was varied and very thoughtfully designed. Direct contact with the local population was made possible and broad discussions were opened and stimulated. Prejudices were broken down and respect and mutual understanding were built. This trip gave me a broader world view. In my opinion, this trip makes a great contribution to the promotion of sustainable tourism. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to develop personally.
Claudia Secchi – As equals, very warmly received
For a long time I thought about making the trip to Rwanda. Although my life partner was one of the tour guides, I had already heard a lot about this country in the heart of Africa, and I knew that the trip was responsibly prepared, I had some fears to overcome. What would it be like to travel to a country where a genocide was carried out twenty-four years ago, and where a significant part of the population lives in great poverty? According to the itinerary, we would go to visit several local communities. How would they receive us? Wouldn’t we be rich interlopers who could afford to visit the poor and photograph them with their expensive cameras?
None of my fears materialized. The careful structure of the trip, the instructive explanations far back in the history of the country, the explanations of the origin of the hardly imaginable violence and the information about the present situation helped to have concepts in a short time that made the incomprehensible comprehensible. The scientific support was central in order to be able to orientate oneself in the complex events. Thanks to Eric and Irina’s trusting relationship with the communities, we were warmly welcomed as equals right from the start.
Markus Zehnder – A new world view
The experiences we were given in Rwanda fundamentally corrected my image of Africa. Today I believe that cooperation between rich and poor can work. I am also convinced that such intensive encounters with the country and its inhabitants are only possible thanks to extensive experience and in cooperation with the various communities through Eric and Irina.
Tamara Kühne – Rwanda, a real adventure!
However, I was not always convinced of this beforehand. Many considerations and numerous conversations finally led me to dare the adventure. And it was indeed one! The joy in the faces of the Rwandan children, the openness of the students towards us as individuals, their interest in our origins and our homeland were very impressive. I was able to get to know many dear people and to dive so deeply into their lives as I have never been able to do before in such a contrasting country. The many conversations were an enrichment for me. All my worries were forgotten on the first day in Rwanda. The adventure was completed by the delicious culinary delicacies and the beautiful green hills. Not for nothing is Rwanda called “the land of a thousand hills”!
Rösli Schweizer – Impressive cooperations
The competent leadership during the whole trip, the excellent accompanying information and the humorous atmosphere were an unforgettable experience for me. I got to know a piece of Africa that makes you think with all its problems and beauties, but also goes to the heart. To witness how projects/communities can be supported and promoted with little means impresses me very much. COERESO has a sensitive feeling for the people in the cooperatives, supports their own ideas and accompanies the projects adapted to the local conditions.
Ruth Nieffer – A trip to Rwanda touches you emotionally
Kigali, as capital cities go, is bustling, vibrant and colorful. Surrounded by rolling hills, Kitabi lies amid lush green tea plants waiting for busy picking hands. On the edge of Nyungwe National Park, the air is pure and clear; at the blue hour of morning, anything seems possible. I am in Rwanda. Warmly but firmly invited by the people to share in their daily lives and their history. Retreat is not an option. Eating, dancing, remembering, playing and laughing together – unfiltered, unadorned.
Margrit Imthurn – Trustworthy relationships
I had thought: It’s a two-week trip, you can’t immerse yourself in the country like you can during a stay of several months… Well, I was completely wrong: It was very possible. The mixture of some “tourist destinations” and the community visits away from the big centers and roads I liked extraordinarily well also the shaking through, it belongs nevertheless to this country. I felt at ease, was highly satisfied.
In the preparation of the trip, in dealing with the local people, with us as a travel group, we were very well prepared for each stop: On the one hand, clear rules of conduct, on the other hand, highly exciting info.
Relationships are the core of the trip: Trusting relationships are built and the tour guide masters the feat of taking the local people and the tour group into these relationships.
Christoph Graf – Changed and enriched
In the short time I have met many warm people, with their hopes, fears and passions. In the process, most of my clichés of “Africa” have been dispelled and all others put into perspective. Irina and Eric, with the help of their local friends and acquaintances, put together an intensive and colorful program for our small group. I benefited greatly from the competent background information and was impressed by their respectful and careful work in Rwanda. It was more than a vacation in an exotic place for me, it has changed and enriched my view of the world in a lasting way.
Helen Ruppert – Murakoze cyane – thank you very much!
The well-organized, multi-faceted trip was very special and worthwhile in many ways. We learned a few words of Kinyarwanda and were introduced to Rwandan cuisine. The hike in Nyungwe National Park introduced us to the fauna and flora of the rainforest. During city tours we got to know the capital Kigali from different sides. We visited different handicraft businesses like a soap factory, a bakery, a fabric dyeing factory or sewing workshops. We learned a lot about the history, economy, politics and future visions of the country. On the one hand in conversations with Rwandans, on the other hand competently supplemented by the experienced tour guide. These in-depth insights helped me to better understand the incomprehensible of the history of this country. Above all, thanks to the personal contacts of the tour guide, we were able not only to see but also to get to know many people in Rwanda. The common, appreciative exchange, these touching personal encounters, will remain unforgettable to me. Murakoze cyane – thank you very much!
What you will find on this trip: warm, well-organized tour guides with great interest in the country and its people, exciting insights into Rwandan everyday life, beautiful nature experiences, confrontation with the genocide and the history of the country, good conversations at eye level and many lasting memories.
What one is spared: Ruminations of kitschy Africa clichés, 08/15 travel program, one-sided presentation of the political situation and historical events, safari in an off-road vehicle, bockwurst and fries.
Jennifer Pitton – Unique adventure
Africa – a completely new continent for me and then the country Rwanda. After a conversation with Eric, I signed up for this adventure pretty quickly. The closer the trip came, the more I worried. What will the local people be like? How will the group harmonize? And even more questions kept me busy. But after the first few hours in the country, all these thoughts faded away. The many heartfelt encounters, the exciting conversations and the time spent together with the locals and in the group will remain in my memory forever. The breathtaking landscape and the good food as well. It was a unique adventure that cannot be described with words …
Matti Betz – Anytime again
Rwanda. The land of a thousand hills. You can really experience this on this trip. Likewise, you get to know the city, the country and especially the people with their stories. This under the professional guidance of Eric Dieth and Irina Zehnder. Incredibly exciting and enriching. I would travel again immediately.
Olivia Ziegler – Unique experience
The trip to Rwanda with COERESO was a very valuable and unique experience for me. Never before have I gotten to know a country and its people so well within a short period of time as on this trip. The program was very diverse and allowed numerous exciting insights into the history, politics and society of Rwanda. Especially the many encounters with the locals were impressive and will remain in my memory for a long time.